Opinion: Need for multiple video platforms becoming apparent

Ivan Franco

Posts: 233   +9
Staff member

That’s not to say, however, that they are a cure all. As we’ve also all learned, there are definitely limitations to what can be achieved via video calls and sometimes things just get, well, awkward.

For people who don’t work at large organizations that have standardized on a single videoconferencing platform, another challenge is the need to work with, install, and learn multiple different apps. As someone who talks to lots of different companies, I can safely say that I’m pretty sure I’ve used virtually every major videoconferencing option that’s out there over the last few weeks: Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts/Meet, Skype, GoToMeeting, Blue Jeans, and of course, Zoom.

Initially, I admit to being frustrated by the lack of standards across the different tools and have wondered if it wouldn’t make more sense to just have a single platform, or at least a primary one that could serve as the default. As time has gone on, however, I realize that my initial thinking was lacking a certain amount of insight. As unintuitive as it may first sound, there actually is a great deal of sense to having multiple videoconferencing apps and platforms.

To be clear, there’s definitely work that could be done to enable and/or improve the interoperability across some of these platforms–even if it’s nothing more than allowing the creation of a high-level log-in tool that could manage underlying audio and video connections to the various platforms. However, just as choice and competition in other categories ends up creating better products for everyone, the same is true with videoconferencing tools—for many different reasons.

First, as we’ve certainly started to see and learn from much of the Zoom fallout that’s started to occur, things can get ugly if too many people start to over-rely on a single platform. Not only is there the potential for reliability concerns—even on a cloud-based platform—but a platform that gets too much attention is bound to become a tempting target for hackers and other troublemakers. Stories of “Zoombombing” and other related intrusions have grown so commonplace that the FBI is even starting to investigate. Plus, nearly every day, it seems, there’s news of yet another large organization moving away from or forbidding the use of Zoom.

To the company’s credit, much of the attention and the continuing strong usage of Zoom is because they took the often awkward, painful, and unreliable process of connecting multiple people from multiple locations into a functioning video call and made it easy. For many people and some organizations, that was good enough, and thankfully, we’re starting to see other videoconferencing platforms improve these critical basics as a competitive response. That’s a win for everyone.

However, it’s also become increasingly clear that Zoom wasn’t nearly as focused on security and privacy as many people and organizations thought they were and as they should have been. From questions about encryption, to publicly accessible recordings of private calls, the routing of US calls through Chinese servers, and much more, Zoom is facing a reckoning on some of the choices they’ve made.

Other videoconferencing platforms, including Webex and GotoMeeting have been focused on privacy and security for some time—unfortunately, sometimes at the expense of ease-of-use—but it’s clear that many organizations are starting to look at other alternatives that are a better match for their security needs. Microsoft, to its credit, has made security an essential part of its relatively new Teams platform.

But even beyond the obvious critical security needs, it’s clear, in using the various videoconferencing tools, that some are better suited for different types of meetings than others. The mechanisms for sharing and annotating files, for example, take different forms among different tools. In addition, some tools have better capabilities for working within the structure of a defined multi-part meeting, such as a virtual event.

The bottom line is, it’s very difficult to find a single tool that can work for all types of meetings, all types of leaders, or even all types of company cultures. Meetings can vary tremendously across companies or even across groups within companies, so it isn’t realistic to think that a single platform is going to meet everyone’s virtual meeting needs. Choice and focus continue to be important and will likely lead many organizations to adopting several different videoconferencing tools for different meeting needs.

And let’s not forget, we won’t be doing this many video meetings forever. While there’s little doubt that we’ll all be doing more video meetings post-pandemic than we were doing pre-pandemic, the overall number of video meetings will go down from current levels for most people. In fact, once things get back to normal, I think people are actually going to look forward to face-to-face meetings—despite the frustrations they often create. We’ll all just be a lot more sensitive to what types of things work in video meetings and what’s better live. That’s an improvement I think we can all look forward to.

Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter . This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,671   +2,309
Coronaviruss' quarantines have been a "test" of the efficacy of remote learning and remote work. People are now learning things about their home office equipment that they didn't know before.
Teachers are learning about the limitations and advantages of remote learning in ways they never did before.

You can bet that Coronavirus Quarantines will eventually drive product manufacturers to develop new distance learning software and hardware to offer schools, businesses, etc which will initially seem profitable considering no one knows how long it will take before Coronavirus can defeated - or whether or not clusters of infection can resurface prompting market shutdowns again.

I for example have been doing videoconferencing on my rig and learning the advantages/disadvantages of my webcam setup and my headset.
 

poohbear

Posts: 429   +299
I find it interesting that Zoom just suddenly saw an upsurge in usage. I thought Skype was the go to video conferencing app, then suddenly Zoom comes out of left field. Did I miss something, or is Skype a thing of the past?
 
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Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,299   +1,249
TechSpot Elite
Our Org evaluated the current videocon apps about 2 years ago and Zoom is what we chose. And yes, Skype is definitely a thing of the past as MS bought it years ago and is slowly shuttering it, pushing everyone to Teams (which we also use on occasion).
 
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cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,320   +5,703
What would be so bad about a singular platform with add-ons to secure and/or customize.

Alternatively this would be accomplished by cross-platform. Why be locked into a platform for communication with that platform?
 
While interoperability would be nice I would not expect competitors to work together towards integration and building API connectors in the corporate space is expensive and from my experience not worthwhile. My last firm used Skype of Business and while not as robust in some features as Zoom, the latter was not permitted on the network, latest security reason certainly could be part of their concern.

I would take a different perspective about people returning to the office, e.g., what you referred to as normal. I would have to believe a lot of accountants at firms will be assessing the viability of expensive real estate against more people working remotely.
 

Slappy McPhee

Posts: 200   +109
Anyone at this point that is using Zoom once this pandenmic is over needs their heads checked. Zoom has had major security flaws for years that they have been too lazy to fix. I have been laughing this entire time seeing the whining about what is happening to people when they use it.